Synthesis of Fluorescent Carbon via Atmospheric Pressure Plasma Pyrolysis of Waste Expanded Polystyrene

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The lack of proper waste management systems in various countries often results in a continual volume increase of plastic waste which when left unkempt may be detrimental to the environment. Plasma pyrolysis provides a possible solution to the problem of increasing polymeric waste by transforming polymers into reusable hydrocarbons and residual carbon at much lower temperatures compared to high temperature pyrolysis methods. The study analyses the resultant carbon as a result of the plasma pyrolysis of waste expanded polystyrene (WEPS) via industrial nitrogen plasma exposure for 20 min under varied flow rates (10, 13, 15 standard cubic feet per hour). From the optical emission spectroscopy spectra, the presence of C, O, and N ions were identified which indicates the possible presence of light-weight hydrocarbons as well as CO in the plasma. The residual solids were analyzed using X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscope, and Raman spectroscopy which showed that the process was able to successfully produce carbon at lower temperatures and fluorescent carbon at higher temperatures from the decomposition of WEPS.